Life Doesn’t Just End When The Cleats Are Hung Up, Even When All You’ve Ever Worn Was Cleats

Life Doesn’t Just End When The Cleats Are Hung Up, Even When All You’ve Ever Worn Was Cleats

Plans changed, lessons were learned, and I got a nice taste of what the real world was like.

Life isn’t over, it actually has just begun.

I am no longer playing college softball and it’s going to be okay (this took me a long time to come to terms with). I played since I was 6 years old and worked every day for over 12 years for something.

I thought this was my dream and fantasized like crazy over it. Everybody who knew me knew that the words “Liv” and “softball” went together. It was what I had always done and what people expected me to do. Softball was my identity. I was "Liv, the girl who played softball" and did not know how to be anything else.

I was busy every weekend because I always had some tournament six-plus hours away that my super supportive parents were driving me to.

Don’t ask me if I am going to the football game Friday night, or that party afterward because you know what the answer is. Sorry, best friend, I can’t celebrate your birthday, I have practice.

As a family, we turned our vacations into softball trips and if you haven’t gotten the vibe by now, my whole life revolved around this little yellow ball. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it… then

Having a passion for something and working towards a dream, dedicating countless hours to a sport, makes you feel like you have a purpose. I would never take back the car rides with my parents who I became so close with since we drove countless hours a week together.

Or the far away tournaments that we turned into mini family vacations. We always made the most of it. I am forever thankful for the best friends and memories I have made all because of softball, including the people I would have never met and now I have friends for life because of the sport.

In 8th grade I planked on the Disney Wide World of Sports sign, every summer of high school I spent time in Colorado visiting national parks and white water rafting. I spent birthdays at the ballfield. I collected all my Rising Stars bracelets.

I looked forward to team meals, I watched my brand new puppy chased after foul balls. I won a state championship with my high school team. I had a pile of 87 softball tournament t-shirts in my room when it was all over with.

I cried, I laughed and did it all because of softball. I would drive hours to meet up with strangers and throw on a uniform if it meant getting to play an extra game on an off weekend.

My parents were the ultimate example of sacrifice, support, and encouragement. They drove me 4 hours round trip almost every weekday in rush hour traffic to a practice or lesson, then woke up at the wee hours of the morning on the weekends to take me to games.

Mom and Dad, thank you so much. I am forever grateful for the opportunities you gave me and the time we spent together, I will never be able to put into words how much you did for me and how much I appreciate it.

High school came around and I got really serious about trying to earn a college scholarship. I became obsessed with it. At the age of 14, I was worried about student loans, debt, and whether or not a college wanted me or not. I stressed out, I worried, all I could focus on was this college athlete life, which people made up to be this once in a lifetime, amazing experience. I wanted that so bad. I signed with a college my senior year of high school and my expectations were higher than ever.

Well, freshman year of college hit and I entered loving the game and ended being confused as ever and not wanting to step back on the field.

You get the picture by now, I spent most of my life working and wishing for something that wasn’t what I had hoped it would be at all. College softball was nothing like what I was told, promised or shown. And inside I couldn’t accept that. I wanted it so bad to be what everyone told me it would be.

I had always played softball, my whole life was the game, how could I no longer like it? I simply did not have any motivation to play anymore. And I had an incredibly hard time accepting that I did not want to.

I had never known a life without softball. It was my identity and what people associated me with. If I didn’t play what would my parents and everyone else think? How do I just be a “normal” person? In the end, I had to be happy, it was me who had to get up and play every day, nobody else could do that for me.

Plans changed, lessons were learned, and I got a nice taste of what the real world was like. Not perfect, and certainly not fair.

At the end of four years, a college softball player’s eligibility ends. The game is over and real life begins, the statistics don’t matter, the wins and losses are irreverent, nothing can be taken with you.

When I thought about it like that, I realized I would be okay with being the Livia Chandler who did not live in cleats and play softball every day.

Softball didn’t define me. The people, the memories, and the experiences were what the whole process was for, not the game. It’s okay to not play softball, even when softball is the only thing you’ve ever done.

This game gave me exactly not what I thought, but what I needed. Just because you don’t wear a jersey anymore does not mean you’re a nobody, you turn into somebody.

You find your identity.

I learned life went on when things don’t go exactly how you planned. Guess what? It will be okay! I’m growing up because of it, working, and bettering all the relationships with the people in my life such as friends and family. Finally, having some time to breathe and do things for me.

Now it’s time to enjoy life and be content with where I am, not always looking at what’s ahead and wanting it to come too soon.

The cleats are hung up and I am truly at ease with it.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.

With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed. So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes. The problem these days in the cheerleading world, is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team the chances of her being on level 4 next year is slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude. Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level 4 tumblers, but have level 2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete. Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time. What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10 year old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes. Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Tiger Is Back And 2019 Is Starting To Look Up

Tiger Woods might now have the greatest comeback story in sports history.


It's no secret that Tiger Woods means a lot to the game of golf. I wrote about his influence back in September when he achieved his one and only tournament win in 2018, first since 2013. I did, however, celebrate his win with a caveat of sorts: I wouldn't say he was back.

In golf, no one cares about how big your prize purse is, how many endorsements you've got or even how many tournaments you win. A golfer's career is measured by how many Majors they win. So for me, I couldn't claim Tiger was back until he secured at least one more Major victory before he decided to hang up the clubs for good.

But now, with a Masters championship under his belt and another green jacket to hang in the closet, I can safely say without a doubt in my mind that Tiger is back.

The biggest question with Tiger was whether or not he could carry the momentum from his Tour Championship into the Masters. Tiger has gotten our hopes up before, but things felt different the moment Tiger claimed that first tournament win in what felt like forever.

And honestly, there's no better way for the world's biggest golfer than in the world's biggest tournament. The "Tiger Effect" is very real, and the numbers are there to prove it. Despite having to tee off early for the final round with threesomes instead of duos to avoid storms, the Masters still delivered incredibly high TV ratings as Tiger played his way into contention the past few days. According to CBS, the final round of the Masters delivered a 7.7 rating which is the highest it's been in 34 years. I'll never forget where I was when Tiger won his fifth green jacket, and I'm certainly not alone in saying that.

So what does this mean for Tiger's legacy? For one, the argument of "can Tiger win another major before he retires" can finally be put to rest. I'm not a huge fan of the talking heads in the sports industry, but watching this video of the slue of bad Tiger takes just brings a smile to my face. It also resurfaces the Jack Nicklaus debate as the greatest golfer of all time. Having now secured his 15th Major win, breaking Nicklaus' record at 18 Major wins seems entirely possible. Statistically, Tiger winning another Major is not outside of the realm of possibility. Julius Boros was the oldest player to win a Major at 48, so Tiger at 43 theoretically gives him another five years. One thing's for sure, the entire sports world will be watching.

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